Alistair Gentry

A character with a pink mask, googly eyes, a pink wig, pink kimono and one white glove sits at a gold desk next to a pink robot with a cute face. The letters AI float in a red circle above them.
DoxBox trustbot 2019. Photo by Andrea Capello.

I’m a writer and artist or an artist and writer… sometimes other things, too.

I live in the UK, currently in London. I make performance lectures, interventions and live role-playing games, mainly for communities and audiences outside of conventional gallery or performance spaces. I like folklore, magic, silly costumes, museums, absurdity, the uncanny valley, and making machines and systems do things their makers wouldn’t approve of. The latest updates about my work are always on Blog/News page first.

A character with a pink mask, googly eyes, a pink wig and a pink kimono operates a pink laptop on a gold desk, while a person listens to a cuboid pink robot speaking.
DoxBox trustbot 2019. Photo by Andrea Capello.

Summer 2020: A slight recovery: DoxBox trustbot at Electric Dreams online festival in August, online with the Open Data Institute this September and November, and a very queer (in every sense of the word) LARP for the Brontë Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire.

Spring 2020 Like nearly every other artist my performances, exhibitions and commissions for this year are cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Since artists are still mostly at the bottom of the arts sector’s priorities and hierarchy of importance, even at the best of times we are precariously employed both within and outside the arts to make the performances, exhibitions, design, fiction, non-fiction, online content, drama, films, TV, music, dance, art works, social interventions and games that are experienced and enjoyed individually by hundreds, thousands or millions of people. Now most of these makers who play such a huge part in making all of our lives better have absolutely nothing. If you can offer any kind of freelance work in writing, editing, copy editing, videography, animation, image making, production or anything similar that can be done remotely, please contact me.

2018-2019 I was research artist in residence at The Open Data Institute in London, developing DoxBox trustbot: a tech drag AI for playing with digital ethics, with performances in London at Furtherfield’s Citizen Sci Fi Future Fair and the ODI’s Annual Summit. I worked on the fourth year (!) of The Portland Office for Imaginary History, performed live a lot, compiled a-n’s online resource on mental health, and I was part of The Bank Job team, a community arts project about money and debt in the community I actually live in, which won the Artquest Workweek Prize for artist-led projects and wrote off £1.2 million of local people’s debts. You can read my writing about independent artists and artist-led projects in every issue of Sluice magazine.

The artist Alistair Gentry made into a porcelain doll version of himself. He is bald and has a beard.
Self portrait as a bisque doll, 2018. All real artists get turned into a doll.

Highlights of my career so far include the publication of two novels, being artist in residence at the University of Edinburgh’s Genomics Policy & Research Forum, exhibiting my films at La Biennale di Venezia, being awarded the Berwick Gymnasium Artist Fellowship by English Heritage and Arts Council England, everything I’ve done in Japan (日本は私の好きな場所です! 私が帰るように私を招待してください…) and most recently being artist in residence at the Open Data Institute in London, researching and building DoxBox trustbot. I’ve been an artist in residence in England, Scotland, Wales, Norway and China: a properly paid and supported artist in residence, incidentally, not the type you pay for yourself which is just going on holiday really, isn’t it?

Flashing christmas lights worn as a necklace illuminate a mask made of brown fur, with gold trim around the eye, nose and moth holes.
Colonel Robin, Mask for a Yuletide ritual (2016).

In 2010 I wrote a successful memoir of being a fairly unsuccessful artist, Career Suicide, which you can buy by clicking the link to the left. I accidentally set up the planet Earth’s number one online source for the full and unexpurgated erotic letters of James Joyce.

Animated GIF of a danse macabre in a paper theatre: a skeleton dancing wildly to the music being played by another, while smoke billows around them.
Danse Macabre from Magickal Realism, performance lecture & video (2009-2013)

My inspiration comes from historical and contemporary folklore, traditional storytelling, and magical or esoteric practices of Britain, Europe and Asia. I have an equal interest in science and technology, particularly the social sciences and their processes. I’ve collaborated extensively with scientists. I sometimes use scientific and academic research methods earnestly, sometimes satirically and pataphysically. Many of my projects are the result of extensive research in particular places, subjects and communities, sometimes over the course of many years. Read a 2011 interview with me by fellow writer and artist Iain Aitch here or one I did in 2014 for the exhibition Lecture-Performance here.

Animated GIF of the artist Alistair Gentry- there are two versions of him with the word DOPPELGANGER in capital letters above him. The Doppelganger has glowing red eyes. Cut to another man with glowing red eyes.
Stendhal Syndrome, performance lecture & video (2011)

I was a founder of Market Project: professional and economic research by artists (2010-2013), which was funded by Arts Council England. Until the gallery’s closure in 2012 I was an Associate Artist at ArtSway, having worked with them in various capacities since 2002. For most of my career I’ve worked collaboratively with other artists, writers, designers, actors, architects, scientists and audiences and I still do. I constantly seek new opportunities to make, exhibit and talk about my work, to perform or do readings, and to forge new and lasting connections with interesting people or places, so I really welcome enquiries and communication.

I post regularly on Twitter, and it’s a good place to reach me and ask questions if you want to. You can also contact me via the BIO/CV menu at the top of this page. My critical writing about contemporary art has most recently been published by a-n, Garageland, The Guardian, and Sluice magazine. I write a column for every issue of Sluice.

Brightly coloured green and blue animation showing the names of genes: "Embargoed" and "Einstein".
Three Times True, video installation (2007 & 2013)

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